Visual Anthropology and Materiality

The theme Visual Anthropology and Materiality is based in recognition that technology, media and material culture are not merely products of culture but active sites of cultural practice.

This research theme connects the work of visual and cultural anthropologists with archaeologists who are investigating human visual communication and the cultural effects of the production, circulation and consumption of images and objects.

This inherently interdisciplinary theme encourages collaboration among anthropologists and artists, art historians, and scholars of cultural and media studies.

Departmental research that connects to this theme includes: collaborative art-based community research centred on the production of digital video and photographic art as both a subject of and method for research; studies of technological style and processes of material culture production; investigations of the role of images in the evolution of human cognition; and research on the diverse ways in which technology mediates and shapes bodies, social relationships, and subjectivities.

Take a look at the Ongoing Research page for more information on current research projects related to this theme.

Recent publications

  • 2017 - Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier and Martha Radice, (eds), Urban Encounters: Art and the Public. McGill-Queen’s University Press: Culture of Cities Series.

  • 2017 - Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier and Nick Wees, Creative Engagement with Interstitial Urban Spaces: The Case of the Vancouver’s Back Alleys. In Urban Encounters: Art and the Public. Edited by Martha Radice and Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier. McGill University Press: Culture of Cities Series.

  • 2016 - Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier, The Fortune of Scarcity: Digital Music in Circulation. In The Routledge Companion to Digital Ethnography, edited by Larissa Hjorth, Heather Horst, Anne Galloway, and Genevieve Bell. Routledge.

  • 2016 - Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier, Recording and Editing. In A Different Kind of Ethnography: Practices and Creative Methodologies, edited by Denielle Elliott and Dara Culhane. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, p. 69-89.

  • 2016 - Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier, Microtopia in Counterpoint: Relational Aesthetics and the Echo Project. Cadernos de Arte e Antropologia 5(1):135-154. Article in html and pdf available at this address:

  • 2016 -  Erin McGuire, Move along: Migrant identities in Scandinavian Scotland. In E. Pierce, A. Maldonado, and A. Russell (eds), Creating Material Worlds. Oxbow Books.

  • 2015 - April Nowell, Learning to See and Seeing to Learn: Children, Communities of Practice and Pleistocene Visual Cultures. Cambridge Archaeology Journal 25(4): 889-899.
  • 2014 - Eric Roth, Community mapping and respondentdriven sampling of gay and bisexual men's communities in Vancouver, Canada. To link to this article.

  • 2018 - Ann Stahl, Efficacious Objects and Techniques of the Subject: “Ornaments” and their Depositional Contexts in Banda, Ghana. In Relational Identities and Other-than-Human Agency in Archaeology, edited by Eleanor Harrison-Buck and Julia Hendon, pp. 197-236. Boulder: University Press of Colorado.

  • 2016 - Ann Stahl, Crafting Life in Turbulent Times: Communities of Practice in the Western Volta Basin from the 13th to 17th centuries A.D. In Knowledge in Motion: Constellations of Learning across Time and Place, edited by Andrew P. Roddick and Ann B. Stahl., pp. 179-215. Amerind Seminar Series. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.